Saturday March 24, 2018
Home World Seven Muslim-...

Seven Muslim-born authors who criticized mainstream Islam


By Nithin Sridhar

With the emergence of the Islamic State (ISIS) and the ever increasing foothold of global Islamic terrorism, serious questions are being raised about various fundamental tenets of Islamic theology, Sharia law, and present day practices in Muslim society.

Here is the list of seven Muslim-born controversial authors who have criticized Islam and Islamic society and some of whom have been branded as ‘blasphemous’ by Islamic groups.

Salman Rushdie. Photo:
Salman Rushdie. Photo:

1. Salman Rushdie: The British Indian Novelist who won the Booker Prize in 1981 for his book ‘Midnight’s Children’ landed himself in a great controversy when his book ‘The Satanic Verses’ was published in 1988. The book, among its plots and sub-plots, includes a legend about Prophet Mohammed, who supposedly uttered few verses that permitted worship of pre-Islamic Meccan goddess, but were later withdrawn by branding them to be a result of the Prophet being deceived by the Devil.

The reaction of the Muslim community to the book was huge, instantaneous, and soon turned violent. Muslims perceived the book as being highly offensive to Islam and took the book to imply that the author is branding the entire Quran as being words of Satan.

Islamic countries banned the book, bookstores were attacked in the US, and in 1989 Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa calling for the assassination of Rushdie for committing blasphemy. Following this, Rushdie was forced to go into hiding for a few years. Rushdie, who identifies himself as an atheist, calls for Muslim reformation and debate on Islam.

Taslima Nasreen. Photo: Huffington Post
Taslima Nasreen. Photo: Huffington Post

2. Taslima Nasreen: The Bangladeshi author was forced to flee her country in 1994 after she published her novel ‘Lajja’ about a Hindu family fighting against Muslim fundamentalism in 1993. The novel was considered anti-Islamic and was subsequently banned in Bangladesh. She suffered a number of physical attacks and death threats following the publication of Lajja, forcing her to flee the country. Nasreen identifies herself as an atheist and has severely criticized the rising fundamentalism and intolerance in Muslim society. She advocated secular humanism, freedom of expression, and gender equality.

After the recent Paris terror attacks, she had tweeted:


A few months ago she was relocated from India to the US following threats to her life.

Tarek Fatah. Photo:
Tarek Fatah. Photo:

3. Tarek Fatah: The Canadian author and broadcaster has written extensively on the issue of Islamic extremism, Islamic State, and Pakistan. He was born and brought up in Pakistan, but later relocated to Canada. He is a strong critic of Islamic radicalism but holds that it is the Sharia law and not Quran as such, which is to be blamed for much of the ‘poison’. In his book ‘Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State’, he argues how Muslims have been made to chase a mirage of Islamic State for the last thousand years and how Islamic State is not central to Islamic practice in the present context. Fatah has also faced many verbal attacks and death threats through Social Media.

4. Ayaan Hirsi Ali: The Somali-born Dutch-American activist is the author of the famous book- ‘Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now’. In her book, Ali explains why the reformation of Islam and Muslim society is the need of the hour and asserts that it is the only way to end the menace of terrorism, oppression of women and minorities, and sectarian strife. She has extensively recorded about her struggles with Islam and Muslim society in her book ‘The Caged Virgin: A Muslim Woman’s Cry for Reason’.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Photo:
Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Photo:

In 2004, Ali participated in the production of a short movie titled ‘Submission’ (the English translation of the term ‘Islam’) about the oppression of women in Islamic society and subsequently received death threats. Later that year, Theo van Gogh, Ali’s collaborator in the movie was assassinated by a Dutch Muslim.

Ali, who now identifies herself as an atheist, criticizes Islam over its treatment of women, homosexuals, and has criticized Prophet Mohammed on his character and personality traits. In the aftermath of recent Paris attacks, while criticizing the Muslim denial of the connection between ISIS and Islam, she had tweeted:


Ibn Warraq. Photo: Youtube
Ibn Warraq. Photo: Youtube

5. Ibn Warraq: The well-known critic of Islam and Quran, who is known only by his pen name, is an Indian-born Muslim, who was brought up in Pakistan after his family shifted there during partition. He currently lives and works from Europe and has authored nine books, including the well-known book- ‘Why I Am Not a Muslim’.

Apart from this, he has also written ‘The Origins of the Koran’, ‘The Quest for the Historical Muhammad’, and ‘What the Quran Really Says: Language, Text and Commentary’, among other things.

In his book, ‘Why I am Not a Muslim’, which was written in the aftermath of the Rushdie affair, Warraq criticizes Islamic theology, history, and culture. He asserts that Islamic tenets are incompatible with individual rights and liberties of secular democratic countries. Prior to 2007, he had refused to appear in public fearing for his safety, the same reason which caused him to write under a pseudo name ‘Ibn Warraq’. He is the founder of ‘Institute for the Secularisation of Islamic Society’ and along with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, and Irshad Manji, he had released the St Petersburg Declaration urging governments across the world to reject Sharia law and fatwa systems.

Anwar Sheikh. Photo:
Anwar Sheikh. Photo:

6. Anwar Sheikh: The Pakistan-born British author and critic of Islam passed away in 2006. He wrote a large number of articles and books criticizing Islam, its theology, and history. In his most famous work, ‘Islam: The Arab Imperialism’, after analyzing the history of Islam and Arabia, he has concluded Islam is nothing more than a tool for imposing Arab Imperialism.

His other works include ‘Islam and the People of the Book’ and ‘Jihad and Civilization’, among many others. Sheikh was a staunch Jihadist who had killed two Sikhs during the Partition of India. At the age of 25, he became disillusioned with Islam and turned into its critique. Later, Sheikh converted into Hinduism and adopted the name Aniruddha Gyan Shikha.

Sheikh has extensively written critique about Prophet Mohammed, Sharia law, Jihad, and terrorism. In 1995, a fatwa was issued against him in Pakistan and many death sentences were handed out to him for abandoning Islam.

7. Ali Sina: The Iranian Ex-Muslim who currently lives in Canada and who writes under the pseudo name ‘Ali Sina’, is the founder of the website- Faith Freedom International (FFI), which describes itself as the “grassroots movement of ex-Muslims”. He is a thorough critic of Islamic doctrines, and he has debated with various Islamic scholars, including with the famous Pakistani scholars Javed A Ghamidi and Khalid Zaheer.

Banner of
Banner of

Sina asserts that Islam cannot be reformed since violence and contempt towards non-believers are central to Islamic doctrine and if Islam were to be really reformed, then much of its scriptures including Quran and historical accounts of Prophet Mohammed must be discarded. He further suggests in his book- ‘Understanding Muhammad: A Psychobiography of Allah’s Prophet’ that Prophet Mohammed was suffering from psychological disorders.

The FFI website has been subjected to hacking and DDOS attacks several times and Sina claims that he had received death threats as well.

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2015 NewsGram

Next Story

Christian Blasphemy Suspect in Pakistan Jumps from Building to Escape Torture

Supporters of Pakistani civil society groups protest in favor of the Christian community in Karachi, Pakistan, Feb. 26, 2018. An official said Sajid Masih, a Christian blasphemy suspect, who suffered serious injuries after jumping off a federal building, is now in stable condition. VOA

Authorities in Pakistan are investigating reports that a Christian blasphemy suspect jumped from a four-story building and suffered serious injuries to escape torture in custody.

Officials and doctors say Sajid Masih is recovering from his “fractured legs and jaw” in a hospital in Lahore where the incident took place on Friday.

Masih and one of his cousins were taken into custody for allegedly posting anti-Islam content on Facebook. They were being probed by cybercrime experts of the Federal Investigation Agency, or FIA, at its main office in the eastern Pakistani city when Masih jumped from the fourth floor of the building.

FIA officials denied charges the man was being tortured or abused, saying “no one had even touched” him. They insisted Masih panicked after “he was asked to unlock his cell phone” for screening.

ALSO READ: 69 Years a Slave? Balochistan’s Struggle for Freedom: A Detailed Report

In a video message circulated and shared via social media, Masih has accused several FIA officers of “severely” torturing him and snatching his cell phone in the process. Pixabay

He alleged the officers were coercing him and his cousin into sexually assaulting one another before he decided to jump from the window.

Dozens of Pakistani human rights groups and activists strongly condemned the incident in a joint statement Monday. They raised serious concerns over persistent misuse of Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws, specifically against Christian and other religious minorities.

“The law enforcement authorities have not only failed in their duty to protect minorities but have actively participated in violence against them,” the statement said.

The groups called for an independent inquiry into the incident, rejecting the FIA’s ongoing internal probe as unacceptable. Wikimedia Commons


They also demanded that area police withdraw the case of attempted suicide against Masih. Activists say they suspect the police case was meant to cover up and protect FIA officers who made the Christian community member jump off the building.

Insulting Islam and its Prophet Mohammad are extremely sensitive issues in Pakistan and can carry the death penalty, although no one has been executed under the blasphemy laws. Right groups say the laws are often misused or exploited to settle personal disputes.

ALSO READ: Pakistan’s handling of Balochistan is reminiscent of its step brotherly treatment to East Pakistan

Mere allegations of blasphemy have provoked mob lynchings of suspects or their targeted killings in Pakistan. Pixabay

In Monday’s joint statement, activists have also demanded authorities take immediate steps for safety and protection of Masih and his relatives.

Last year,23-year-old university student Mashal Khan was beaten to death by fellow students and others at the campus, accusing him of sharing blasphemous content on social media, charges investigations later determined were false. The incident happened in the northwestern city of Mardan, provoking a nationwide outcry against Khan’s brutal killing.

Earlier in February, an anti-terrorism court sentenced one person to death and 30 others to jail terms, including life imprisonment, for their role in the lynching case. (VOA)